Public sounds off on New Jersey Transit's proposed fare hike

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Tuesday, March 5, 2024
NJ Transit starts hearings on proposed 15% fare hike
Anthony Johnson has more on the hearings.

PATERSON, New Jersey (WABC) -- New Jersey Transit is trying to stay on track serving riders during challenging economic times as the agency works to fill a nearly $107 million deficit for the 2025 budget.

The agency says it needs riders to dig deeper into their pockets to help cover the funding gap. The first of two local hearings proposed fare hikes was held Tuesday.

The transit agency has not increased fares since 2015, but now needs to raise them by 15% starting July 1 -- followed by a 3% increase annually in the following years.

New Jersey Transit is entering the fifth year of ridership below pre-COVID levels, which has resulted in a $2 billion reduction in fare revenue.

"I wish you'd look inside your agencies to see the type of bloating you can cut out and try to not raise the rates on the taxpayers or riders," said commuter John Caulfield.

The proposed fare increases are facing scrutiny in a week of public hearings. Commuters took the opportunity to weigh in on the planned hikes at Passaic County Community College on Tuesday morning.

"New Jersey Transit makes up its mind when they hold these hearings ahead of time and it's a done deal, my concern is just that the money is spent wisely," said commuter Neil Ross.

All of this comes as New Jersey is also is battling New York's congestion pricing plan, causing many to wonder if they can afford all the price hikes.

"We're asking people on top of struggling to make everyday ends meet, to pay an additional 15% increase because others are not paying what they owe," said Nedia Morsy with Make the Road New Jersey.

While NJT has used federal funds to help offset the gap, that money is set to run out. Governor Phil Murphy is proposing a corporate transit tax, taxing the largest companies to help address the state's transit finances.

But how it would affect the proposed fare hikes remains to be seen.

The New Jersey Transit board is expected to vote in April.

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